Rehoboth emergency system saves lives

Call for help sets off chain reaction of first responders
August 6, 2019

When a call came in to report a patient collapsed on Rehoboth Beach, a multi-prong emergency system jumped into action to save a life.

A little after 5 p.m., July 17, Rehoboth 911 dispatcher Danny Mitchell received a call from a man who said he and his partner were walking off the beach at Prospect Street. The caller said when he turned around, his partner was lying face-down on the beach. 

Mitchell said he first asked the caller a series of questions.

“At first there were agonal respirations - he was breathing on his own but with difficulty - and then he stopped breathing,” Mitchell said. “It was a life-threatening event. I gave him CPR instructions over the phone.”

At the same time, Rehoboth 911 dispatcher Greg Tietmeyer alerted police, ambulance, paramedics and operators of Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company’s all-terrain vehicle.   

Rehoboth Police Cpl. Tyler Whitman was first on scene. Whitman took his medical bag to the beach, hooked up his automated external defibrillator and had just administered a shock when Rehoboth firefighter Kent Swarts, who lives close by, arrived.  

“I got the call there was a cardiac arrest on the beach so I got on my scooter and went down there,” Swarts said. “The AED monitor said to continue CPR, so I jumped in and did chest compressions until it was time to check the monitor again.”

Three minutes after the initial call, a Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company ambulance arrived with EMTs Russel White and Katelyn Ellingsworth, who said the patient had no pulse. 

“My partner assessed his airway and obtained his vitals, and we continued working on the patient with oxygen-assisted CPR,” Ellingsworth said. “About two minutes later, he had a pulse and was breathing on his own.”

Fire Chief Chuck Snyder and past Chief Leonard Tylecki drove to the beach in the ATV as Police Sgt. Scott O’Bier and Cpl. Susan Gladmon arrived. They helped move the patient off the sand and into the ambulance as Sussex County Paramedics Emmy Fibelkorn and Amanda McCloskey arrived with Delaware Technical Community College paramedic student Nicole Capello. 

Medics and EMTs continued treating the patient in the ambulance on the way to Beebe Healthcare.  

“He had regained consciousness and was talking on arrival,” said Ellingsworth, who noted the patient arrived 29 minutes after his partner’s call for help. 

Firefighter Warren Jones said the initial 911 call started a chain reaction of first responders.

“All players fit into the system,” Jones said. “The system is remarkable, and many people don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes. Everyone was involved with saving his life.”

To protect his privacy, the patient’s name has not been released.

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